It has been a long, long time since I posted any sort of camera equipment post. I quit doing it because I am no expert and frankly I found that cameras are like tools and artists brushes, meaning if used properly for what each camera is good at one can almost always find ways to get good quality images. While this is true, every once in a while a tool comes along that makes you think differently and frankly, knocks your socks off. That is how I feel about the Fuji XE1. It is my favorite camera I have ever used.
I acquired the Fuji XE1 several months ago after selling my Sony Nex7 and lenses. I made many good images with the Sony but it was missing something for me. Hard to describe really, but it just wasn’t quite right for me. I’ve seen images from many photographers that prove just how good that camera is. For me with how I shoot and how I think, it just wasn’t right for me despite it checking all the right boxes in quality, features, etc. After selling the Sony I broke down and purchased a Fuji XE1 as well as an adapter to use my Cosina Voigtlander 21mm f4 M mount lens. The Fuji brought the EVF to the left side of camera that I am now accustomed too because of the NEX 7 & my Bessa R4A film camera, had external controls in the right places and just felt good in hand and more importantly when brought to my eye.
Shooting the Fuji XE1 in manual focus mode is a true joy, at least for me. The controls on the back are positioned perfectly. The thumb wheel type button controlling magnification of x3 and x10 falls right beneath my thumb. The function button programmed to control ISO is an easy reach for my shutter finger. The compensation dial has the right feel and is in the right place and I can see my changes instantly in the EVF. The rest of the controls just sort of disappeared. For me, I was able to compose while getting rough focus, magnify image to x3, final focus, final compensation if needed and shoot. Once you get used to the x3 magnification you learn to identify an almost focus peaking like shimmer when things are in focus. Honestly, I nailed manual focus just about every time. That coupled with a nice sharp lens with good color and contrast, I got images I really liked. In fact, it was the only camera and lens I took home for Christmas. I took a bit of a risk taking only one lens, especially an f4 lens at Christmas time coupled with dark northern climates. But, given the Fuji’s high ISO performance and these were just family snapshots I was not worried nor was I let down with the results. Here are a few images take with that combo.
As you can see, I really enjoyed the XE1 with the CV21mm. So much so that I decided I wanted to keep the camera and purchased the Fuji X mount 35mm f1.4 for those really low light situations and really shallow depth of field needs. Again, I was blown away. This time not by the form factor of the camera, although the combo does just feel just right, but by the image quality. While I wish the focus speed was a bit faster (And I have updated both the camera and lens to the latest firmware), the results are so good that I can easily deal with it. If I want faster, I shoot my Nikon DSLR. Here are some of my favorite shots with the 35mm f1.4.
I also rented the kit zoom to test after reading reports of it being the best zoom kit lens ever as well as the fastest focusing Fuji X lens. What I have read is true and it truly is a spectacular lens with very good IQ, very good OIS (optical image stabilization) and faster focusing speed. Here are some recent shots with the kit lens.
Lastly, a few shots from the 14mm f2.8, a lovely and near perfect wide angle lens. I love the manual focusing capability of the lens. Super quick and efficient manual focusing in a wide angle. Even better is that it has minimal distortion and is sharp across the entire field of view. Love it! It has allowed me to get up close and personal and inspired me to learn and shoot in a new style. I’ve shot it very little with it but I am looking forward to using it more as the year goes on.
Honestly, the images I am capturing with this camera are my favorites of all time. While some of this is simply me improving as a budding photographer, the tool really does add here. I love the color. I love the features. I love the output. Almost all of these images are SOOC (straight out of camera in JPEG mode) as I can tweak in camera the color, contrast, saturation, noise levels, etc.
But, no camera is perfect. If I had my way, I would add and beg for a few simple things.
- Increase shutter button response. Even when I prefocus, it is slow to respond. Maybe this is me coming from my Sony NEX 7 where it was near instantaneous when I had it prefocused and locked but the Fuji is slow. It took me a while to get the trampoline shot and eventually I just prefocused and resorted to the 6 frames per second shooting to get the vertical postion.
- Increase in the focus speed. It does matter and I simply would like it faster. As I said, I can overcome this and deal with it, but it would be great. For those that care, it seems the zoom lens is the fastest of the Fuji lenses for focus speed.
- Integrate the actual focus peaking of the new Fuji X100s.
- Related but not all on Fuji, better RAW conversion with Adobe products. As I said, this is a wishlist and I believe this aspect will improve over time.
It is obvious I love this camera and that is why I actually took the time to write this impression list. I think that this is a camera that in the right hands can do so much. I hope to one day be one of those photographers that truly can fully utilize the capabilities of this camera. I know I look forward to shooting with it and developing my skill set.
If you have any specific questions, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them. I am not a professional photographer nor do I care about video. I do care about taking images, learning and sharing so please leave questions for me if you have them.
Hope you enjoyed my impressions and images. Thanks for reading and have a great week.
This camera was purchased with my own money and I have no affiliation with Fuji or any retailer selling this product. I wrote the review because I love it and wanted to share my thoughts and images.